Marc Benioff is pissed. It didn’t take long after the passage of Indiana’s new “religious freedom” law for the Salesforce CEO and founder to take a stand. “We are canceling all programs that require our customers/employees to travel to Indiana to face discrimination,” he wrote today.
From its name, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act sounds innocuous enough, but the newly enacted law is controversial because it legally permits businesses to discriminate against gay and transgendered customers.
Under the law, a gay couple could be ejected from a restaurant and have no legal recourse against the owner of that business, who is now able to cite religious beliefs as a justification.
Benioff wants to use his company’s influence to apply pressure to Indiana’s government. And he’s calling on others to do the same. In a series of tweets posted earlier today, Benioff urged other prominent tech executives to join him in boycotting Indiana over its homophobic legislative tomfoolery. Silicon Valley heavyweights including PayPal cofounder Max Levchin have also voiced their disapproval of the law. “What is happening in Indiana is pretty unbelievable,” he tweeted today. “However it’s dressed up, it’s a signal that discrimination is welcome in this state.”
Others such as Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey are enthusiastically favoriting and retweeting Benioff and other voices condemning Indiana’s new law.
This isn’t simply a passing political statement from the San Francisco-based cloud computing giant. Last year, Salesforce acquired email-marketing firm ExactTarget, which is based in Indianapolis, Indiana.
While other well-known figures like George Takei and Montel Williams have publicly taken Indiana to task for the new law, we have yet to hear whether any other big-name CEOs will take action quite as bold as Benioff’s. But we’ll certainly be on the lookout.JPT